Marker Pens and Their Application to the Surfboard:
A Test of Chemistries and Application Modalities
By Thomas Gertsch
conducted at Cerritos College Fiberglass Technology
This test was created and conducted to demonstrate the different
chemistries of markers (and paint pens) and their common applications
the surfboard artist. Also, a goal of developing or validating
practices” workflow for the application of artwork to surfboards.
Permanent ink pens
Poster paint pens, water based
Poster paint pens, oil based
Tech ink pens
Expanded polystyrene (EPS) #2 (lb)
Epoxy Resin (Resin Research)
Some surfboard artists prefer the use of the paint pen markers
because of their ability to create very detailed, harsh lines (as opposed
to the airbrush and its gradient lay of paint) and the overall
ease of application. This is in contrast to the softened, gradient
like line created by the airbrush. In the application of airbrushing
the additional care that must be taken to prevent overspray
by the airbrush and masking issues may be time prohibitive. Furthermore,
by applying paint pen markers after the glass stage, the possibility
errors affecting the artwork is eliminated.
There are different types of inks and paint markers on the art market
with each brand having a variety of inks, paints, and pigment and
This test looked at mostly Sharpie® Brand markers due to their accessibility
in the US. There are additional international companies including the coveted
Posca® by Uniball® but their availability is limited in the US. Additionally,
COPIC®, a tech pen brand from Japan was used to expand this investigation.
The test composed of two basic usages. Pens (fig. 1) applied directly
to EPS foam (2 lb foam) then covered with epoxy resin and 6oz fiberglass
Pens (fig 2) applied on top of epoxy resin
protected with aa acrylic clear coat spray(Krylon® brand).
Overall, each situation yielded consistent results that have been recommended
That is, water based paint pens are the best at color and bleed stability.
of these situations 6 oz E glass was used to mimic actual board construction
Figure 2. Test sheet 2. Markers on resin. Clear coat over ink.
In setting up the test material for lamination, it should be noted that
a shrink film (3M® window shrink film a.k.a thermoplastic) was used
to create a glossy finish from only the application of a laminate coat
follows similar release film contact, albeit a heat gun was used to shrink
film and remove the wrinkles. Air bubbles were worked to the sides of
the foam. (No hot coat or gloss coat was applied.) The window shrink
film left an adequately smooth and
glossy finish without the need for polishing making it ready to accept
Figure 1. demonstrates drawing directly onto the foam withthe resin on
top of the art. The advantages include protection from sand and other
abrasions, and all
stage. The disadvantages
to applying directly onto the foam includes a reduction of color saturation
and vibrancy and the creation of colorized foam dust that negatively
Drawing on top of the resin allows for the composite technician to focus
on apply the resin and less on damage to the artwork. Furthermore, the
helps draw the paint out of the marker and reduce colored foam or marker
lint from contaminating the work.
Results, interpretations of
While all markers met the task of appearing on the material, the markers
that performed with the least bleed and best color saturation consisted
of the Water
Based Paint Pens (Only Sharpie® brand available in this investigation.
Additionally, all inks and paints showed increased color vibrancy above
This testing raises some additional questions in relation to this subject.
Additional testing of the following situations would provide deeper insight
into this application
of paint pens.
These additional topics include:
o UV stability of pigments and assistance of being an underlayment in
sandwich composite construction
o Oven baking Epoxy and the heat effect on paint
o Light pen colors (white, yellow, pink, pastels, etc.) on dark composite
in appearance, visability and functionality
|(above Fig 1.)
Test sheet of markers used on EPS foam, UNDER epoxy resin.
2) Test sheet of markers used on TOP of epoxy resin. Acrylic clear
coat sprayed to protect